The Breakfast Club
They only met once, but it changed their lives forever.
In John Hughes' most iconic 80's feature, we meet five kids: a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Better known as 'The Breakfast Club', these five teenagers from entirely different circles converge on a languid Saturday, forced together in a detention which becomes anything but boring. What begins as a delightfully humorous tale of the All-American high school, the film soon transforms into an unexpected but beautiful presentation of confession and honesty. Let The Breakfast Club teach you that differences are often blaringly similar and that teenagers are not to be misunderstood.
What retro 80s season would be complete without a film to represent to monumental work of John Hughes? Before talent deserted him completely and he started turning out cutesy drivel like Home Alone and Baby's Day Out (reviewers started joking that his next film would have to be about an unborn foetus), he wowed the world with his teen angst canon: Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Some Kind of Wonderful and Pretty in Pink being other perennial favourites.
The Breakfast Club fares better in terms of surviving the passing of time. The situation is a relatively simple one: five students who normally wouldn't associate with each other at all are brought together for a whole day detention on a Saturday. We have a representative from each of the high school cliques: the prom-queen princess (Ringwald - dreamy); the intolerable jock (Estevez - Sheeny); the nerd (Hall - wheezy); the drop-out (Nelson - St.Elmos Firey); and the space cadet (Sheedy - Sheedy). With nothing else to do, they discuss the meaning of life in true existential angst-ridden fashion and transcend their stereotypical constraints to become The Breakfast Club. Simple as that.
Of all the films of its type, The Breakfast Club is most often cited as the epitamy of Brat Pack. Featuring a cast of young hopefuls who invariably ended up in bigger, bolder films before dissappearing into oblivion (i.e. try and catch Estevez's huge role in Mission Impossible - that is before his head gets impaled on an elevator), and a thumping eighties soundtrack by the likes of Simple Minds and Wang Chung (!?), this is a slice of the collective student past.
Seeing this film so many years after it was made doesn't detract from the social message it has. It makes you wonder what happened to the 80s Brat Pack who star in so many of these John Hughes films, though…
Five pupils get in trouble and are made to attend a Saturday detention. They all go, and the teacher (Gleason) tells them to write an essay about what they did to get there. Each of them already has personal problems and things to deal with.
Andrew (Estevez) is in the school's wrestling team and his dad wants him to be the best. John Bender (Nelson) is the kind of guy who doesn't give a shit about anything; he always gets in trouble for disrespecting the teachers. Brian Johnson (Hall) is the class nerd who always gets the best grade in all of his classes, and doesn't know what he would do if he ever got a bad grade. Claire (Ringwald) had problems with her parents, they're thinking of divorcing, and Allison's (Sheedy) reason for being there is unique. She's a lonely person, one of those who spend their break time alone without talking to anyone.
They were very different kinds of people, and they know it. Andy and Claire were part of the 'cool' group, but Brian is a geek, so they won't even say hello to him on a normal school day. But this day becomes really long and boring (unlike the film!), so each one starts talking about their own problems while the others listen, and they end up being friends.
Every single member of the rather small cast is amazing. The story can be quite shocking for some people because you can identify with the characters. It's also quite realistic about how the different kinds of teenagers treat each other. And the essay they have to write is very revealing, Michael describing them all as "an athlete, a criminal, a basket case, a brain and a princess".
I can heartily recommend this film to anyone who wants to recapture lost youth, and to watch a cinematic classic up on the big screen where it belongs.
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Screenings of this film:
|1996/1997 Spring Term – (35mm)|
|2003/2004 Autumn Term – (35mm)|
|2014/2015 Spring Term – (digital)|
|2021/2022 Autumn Term – (35mm)|